Life is too short to be anything but happy.
“Put your phone down, you’re affecting my happiness!”, Tim and I jokingly tell each other whenever we watch tv together. Science backs it up though; there is an actual science behind being happy, and I’ve learned so much through listening to The Happiness Lab, a podcast by Yale professor Laurie Santos. Even though Tim and I are “joking” when we say this, it actually works. Knowing that having my phone out doesn’t just impact my enjoyment of whatever we are doing but also his, makes me put the phone down. And when he puts his away, I feel it too, it really does make the moment more enjoyable. What has the Happiness Lab taught me? That we can learn to be happier, we can work to be happier.
I am so excited about this podcast, I’ve mentioned it to family, friends and co-workers. And now I will share a few of the things I learned through listening with you, and how it has changed my life (and happiness level) already. Knowing how my mind works is really useful when going about daily activities. Because I know now, that my mind is tricking me when it comes to what makes me happy. Eat that entire bag of chips, watch that Netflix show, lay in bed a little longer instead of going out for a walk/run. My mind tells me those are the things I want to do, and that they will make me happy. And maybe they do in the moment, but not in the long run. I am the first to admit that I can be lazy, I’d rather sit on the couch and drink my coffee not doing anything for a while opposed to rushing and getting ready to head out the door. But does that really make me happier? No, it does not. Even though I hate the rushing part, I love getting out, interacting with people, taking my son to play places or the park, going out for breakfast. Those are the things that really make me happy. I know this now. And the science backs it up.
If you want something to change, you have to change it. Laurie explains most of us are waiting and hoping our circumstances will change, convinced that when this happens… we will be happier. Maybe when we get a new job, or a new house, then my life will be in place. Once again, our minds are lying to us, we can work on being happy right now. It is entirely possible, even if you have the disposition to be on the more unhappy side, you just have to work harder at it than some others.
I won’t give away too much, as I want you to go ahead and listen to The Happiness Lab and be as impressed as me. I learned some things I already knew, but being reminded about them and having it put in another perspective, makes me work harder at changing the things in my life that are affecting my happiness level. What do I mean? Well, in one episode Laurie talks about how our mobile phones affect our own experiences, but also those of others around us. Research has shown that scrolling on my phone while watching a movie with my husband doesn’t just affect my own happiness, but also his. Having my phone out while playing with my kid, affects his experience of the moment and makes him enjoy it less. We are dispositioned to want to share in experiences, and having someone be “half there” doesn’t feel quite the same. Knowing this, Tim and I make even more of an effort to put our phones away, prioritizing family and couple time. And instead of nagging each other about it, we are able to jokingly remind each other that “you’re not just ruining this moment for yourself by being less present, but also for me”. “You’re affecting my happiness!” is a phrase that regularly gets thrown around and is always followed by laughs.
How else has it changed my life? Well, I try to outsmart my brain. I know it is trying to trick me. I know that it makes me happier in the long run to do that laundry, clean the house and have it all tidy when I come down in the morning instead of laying in bed doing nothing binging Netflix after Finn goes to bed. It makes me feel less guilty, less lazy, and like I am a better mom and spouse. A clean organized house gives me much more enjoyment in the long run, than watching yet another show. I kick myself in the butt more often and remind myself of the things that REALLY make me happy. Going through heartbreaking stuff really can tear you down, and even though those are things I cannot change or control, it feels freeing to know that I DO have control over my own happiness. Happiness is possible.
Gave it a listen? Please share your thoughts below or on Facebook. I would love to hear your feedback!